Up to 150 new jobs could be created under £100million plans by the Global Energy Group (GEG) to build what has been described as the “UK’s largest offshore wind fabrication facility” in the Highlands.
And it has been forecast the huge plant, which Inverness-based GEG is aiming to develop at its Port of Nigg facility, at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, would lead to work for more than 300 people in the area’s supply chain.
With up to 17 new offshore wind farms expected to be developed in Scottish waters in the coming years, the group believes Nigg could become the “UK hub” for the industry.
The planned factory would be used to manufacture steel towers, jackets and foundations for the renewables schemes.
GEG has, for a number of years, been exploring opportunities to add manufacturing to the marshalling and staging work for offshore wind farms it currently carries out at the former North Sea oil platform fabrication site. It has been reported that “investors are now closing in on a decision” over the development.
According to details that emerged this week, the plant would include a 376,000 cubic foot steel-rolling hall, capable of producing 90-100 towers a year. There would also be a blast and paint shop and robotics would be used in fabrication processes.
A training facility for former workers in the oil and gas sector is also planned.
A GEG representative told the Recharge online publication: “The factory design will integrate cutting-edge technology to maximise operational efficiency and regional staff historically employed in the oil and gas industry will have the opportunity to be re-trained and upskilled at the Nigg Skills Academy to allow them to operate the machinery required to roll these giant structures.”
He added: “The Port of Nigg could become the UK hub for offshore wind activity if [we are] successful in funding this ambitious plan to build [this] tower-rolling facility to service these [upcoming projects].”
It is understood development of the 1,476 foot-long factory would also require the creation of new quayside space at the Port of Nigg to accommodate increased shipping movements there.
Yesterday, a GEG spokesman confirmed that the group hoped to develop the facility, but declined to comment on what stage efforts to raise the funding for the project had reached.
The group’s plans were welcomed by Bob Buskie, chief executive of the neighbouring Invergordon-based Port of Cromarty Firth. The trust port is responsible for shipping movements in the waters by Nigg.
Mr Buskie said: “If that comes to being it’s going to help reinforce the Cromarty Firth as being a real centre of excellence for renewable energy across the world, not just in Scotland and the UK.
“Its fantastic. Roy MacGregor, the chairman of the Global Energy Group, and I have been talking about this for some time.
“I thinks there is a lot of political support for this type of manufacturing in Scotland.”
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, set out ambitious plans to quadruple the UK’s offshore wind generation capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2030 and announced £160m would be used to make ports and harbours ready to service the sector.